The Walt Disney Studios and World War II

Event Info

  • Dates: July 9, 2022 - February 5, 2023
  • Recurrence: Recurring daily
  • Price: FREE with Museum admission
  • Website: Event Link

The Museum of Flight is pleased to announce the opening of a new traveling exhibition, The Walt Disney Studios and World War II, a retrospective of The Walt Disney Studios’ extensive contributions to the Allies’ World War II effort. Curated by World War II historian Kent Ramsey and the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, this immersive exhibition will be on view in the William E. Boeing Red Barn®.

When Walt Disney received the request to use the Disney studio lot in Burbank, California as an Army anti-aircraft base after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, he and his staff pledged to support the war effort without hesitation—and without profit. This original exhibition illustrates how The Walt Disney Studios devoted over 90% of its wartime output to producing training, propaganda, entertainment and public-service films, publicity and print campaigns, and over 1,200 insignia. The studio also deployed a group of talented artists, including Walt Disney himself, to Latin America on a Goodwill Tour.

During this unique period in animation history, The Walt Disney Studios functioned as a morale-builder for both the civilian public and deployed Allied troops. Walt knew that cartoons would provide a direct yet amusing way to communicate with the American people about war-related issues and anxieties. Disney characters appeared in short films and military insignia, advertisements, magazines and stamp books. Government posters promoting tax payment, food recycling, rationing, war bond sales and farm production also used Disney cartoon personalities. The exhibition includes 550 examples of these rare historical objects and film clips.

A new insignia was designed exclusively for The Museum of Flight’s display of the exhibition by Mike Gabriel and The Museum of Flight. It features Donald Duck dressed as a pilot holding onto the wings of a B-17 while soaring over the Pacific Northwest. B-17 Flying Fortresses were built at The Boeing Company plant in Seattle, Washington.